Let me start off by saying that I don't believe any of the four light heavyweights who competed in the main and co-main events at UFC on FOX 4 deserve the next shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship.
However, since UFC president Dana White specified that whichever fighter put forth the most impressive performance would receive the title shot, Lyoto Machida is definitely the most deserving. White seemed to agree, as immediately after the broadcast he said on air that Machida was next in line.
Ryan Bader and Brandon Vera both lost, so they are out of the discussion automatically. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was victorious—being the man who dealt Vera a TKO loss—but did not look overly impressive. It took him a long time to put Vera away, and he also looked gassed at the fight's end.
Machida was the only man to turn in a truly dominant performance, knocking Ryan Bader unconscious in the second round with a beautiful counter right hand. As such, he is the only man who makes sense for a championship bout, given the criteria put forth by White.
The issue that some fans are having with this, and with the idea of any of the other four light heavyweights getting a shot, is that all of them have been handily defeated by the current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and none of them seem to have done enough to earn a rematch.
However, Jones may not even be champion by the time Machida's title fight comes along. He has to defend the title first against MMA legend Dan Henderson at UFC 151.
If Jones does defend the title against Henderson—which most believe is likely—then the UFC might have a tough time selling Jones vs. Machida II, given that Jones decisively defeated Machida less than a year ago.
There is the argument that Machida is only the only man to win a round against Jones, but there is also the argument that Jones followed up that round by choking Machida unconscious.
What seems like the smartest move is for Jones to take a fight at heavyweight if he beats Henderson, allowing time for a more legitimate contender to emerge, and then come back down and defend the belt—we've seen Anderson Silva do it before.
However, what seems more likely is that after Jones vs. Henderson, the winner will meet Machida. It just seems odd that the light heavyweight division's best contender is 2-3 in his past five fights and only on a one-fight winning streak.